Starbucks For Life: When free to play really means free to play

Starbucks is running their “Starbucks for Life” contest in Canada right now. These kinds of things usually have a way to get a free contest entry, probably by law in Canada. I feel like that entry is usually really complicated, like you need to mail in a paper form to somewhere, and they mail you back some other paper form. That way, even if you can do it an unlimited number of times, you’re spending money on postage, and odds that you break even are worse.

What surprised me about the Starbucks one is that without buying anything you can still be on an equal playing field with the biggest Starbucks drinkers. The main way to get game tokens is to buy something at a Starbucks location with your registered Starbucks card. You get a token with each purchase, to a maximum of two tokens per day. Makes good business sense. But you can also request a free entry from the fine print at the bottom of the game board page. And you can do that twice each day.

Though it might just be that Starbucks is a good-hearted organization and want everything to be equal for everyone, I can’t help but think this is a quirk of implementation. Starbucks does everything electronically now. I refill my card through the app and my credit card. I scan the app on my phone to pay. I log into the app to tip. Aside from receipts, do they interact with their customers using paper in any other way? I think that even if the law allows them to, they’d have to add infrastructure to make it harder for non-purchasers to get game tokens. Adding cost for that reason has got to be a net loss.

Especially when getting free daily game tokens makes me like them just a little bit more.

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